Sunday, May 9, 2010
Secret Blackwater Tape Exposed
Jeremy Scahill - The Nation - May 3, 2010
Erik Prince, the reclusive owner of the Blackwater empire, rarely gives public speeches and when he does journalists are banned from attending; recording or videotaping of his remarks is verboten.
Despite these attempts to shield himself from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine obtained an audio recording of one of Prince's recent speech delivered in a private venue to a friendly audience. The speech provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater.
In earlier posts, I have insisted that private contractors operating within narrow constraints as security personnel are NOT mercenaries per se. In this post there is no fig leaf - we're talking private contractors deployed in full-mission profile; defensive AND offensive operations; employed as snipers, conducting raids and ambushes, the whole enchilada.
Prince proposes armed private soldiers (like Blackwater contractors) be deployed throughout the sand countries to counter Iranian influence and Iranian-supported insurgents, specifically in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. There's a lot to be said for this approach.
He expresses disdain for the Geneva Convention and describes Blackwater's secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases (FOB's) he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan "barbarians" who "crawled out of the sewer."
Despite the disparaging things I said about Blackwater in the past - and I meant every word I said - I find myself agreeing with Prince here. The United States has employed private armies in every war we've fought, dating right back to the Revolution; they have a role, albeit a specialized one.
As far as the Geneva Convention goes - has it ever occurred to anybody that we are the only ones who abide by this anachronism? And even we don't go by it all the time; if we had lost World War II, Winston Churchill and President Truman would have been sitting in the dock for all those cities we vaporized.
Wars are won by doing what needs being done. In the former Yugoslavia I observed (Allied) Special Forces soldiers operating in civilian clothes, passing themselves off as journalists. By the time I retired I'd been operating in and out of uniform for about half of my career, and I made it all the way to Belgrade.
"War is simple, direct and ruthless." - General Patton's Maxims.
I'm not suggesting we lower ourselves to the degree of savagery displayed by our enemies on a daily basis, but think about it for a minute - if the Post Office could accomplish it's mission, UPS and FedEx wouldn't be able to survive as commercial enterprises. Why should we constrain ourselves in warfighting?
Once we decide to win this Hundred Years War we are currently fighting, necessity will dictate our conduct. To prevail against irregular insurgents and terrorists, we need irregular, unconventional counter-insurgents and counter-terror soldiers, and we should be open-minded and imaginative when the rule book gets in the way.